Last December, Congress passed legislation that would increase the price of the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass from $10 to $80. We finally have a date that the change will take effect — August 28, 2017.
The Senior Pass has cost $10 since 1994. Until August 28, U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 62 years or older can purchase the lifetime Senior Pass for $10 at a national park or other Federal recreation areas that charge an entrance or day use fee. The pass can also be obtained by mail or online for $10 before August 28 but there will be an additional $10 charge for processing, for a total of $20. There are already delays of many weeks in receiving passes ordered online or through the mail, so the ideal way to purchase is at a physical location.
The Senior Pass can be used at sites managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The pass provides free entrance to any national park or federal recreation area that charges an admission to the pass holder’s entire party (a vehicle or up to 3 additional adults), as well as discounts (usually 50%) on camping and activity fees.
The legislation requires that the price of the lifetime Senior Pass be the same as the Interagency Annual Pass ($80), which is available to persons of any age to purchase, but does not provide camping and recreation discounts, only entrance fees, and must be renewed annually.
The legislation also introduces a new annual Senior Pass that can be purchased for $20. Seniors who purchase annual Senior Passes for four years can trade them in for a lifetime Senior Pass at no additional charge.
Persons with disabilities should apply for the Access Pass, which is free for the life of the user, with the same benefits as the Senior Pass, and is valid for any permanent disability at any level (you do not need to be 100% disabled).
There’s another reason to purchase a pass in person — 80% to 100% of the fee you pay is retained by the site you purchase at, so it’s if you’d like to support a particular site, be sure to get your pass there in person.
More information on the change and purchase options are available here.